Marakia soon became aware of his situation.
“Mmm? You…?! Ahhh!”
Marakia let out a cry when his eyes met Sungchul’s and quickly retreated back into the egg. But the once-broken egg could not perfectly conceal him any longer.
“What is going on?”
Marakia asked carefully as he kept his head covered with the shell.
“You seem fine.”
Sungchul said to Marakia.
Bertelgia in her book form also replied in a strictly polite manner.
“Yes. He seems fine.”
Marakia was able to gather himself together after a moment. He slowly lifted up the shell before speaking in a needlessly excellent voice.
“Where is this? To begin with, I see an unfamiliar sky. What year is it in the New Fae Calendar?
“I have never heard of such a calendar system, Marakia.”
Sungchul replied in an unemotional tone.
“This is a city of the Eastern Regions. And only one year passed since I’ve met you.”
“One year…? Only that long?”
Marakia quickly lowered his head to look at his body and feathers. Nothing in particular stood out other than his regular black feather. Marakia quickly raised his head back up and opened his beaks.
“This body. It’s intact. I also do not feel the agonizing pain nor spots that is indicative of the Curse of Extinction. Does that mean you already resolved the Calamities?”
Sungchul shook his head.
“We only completed the first Calamity. The Calamity is still in progress.”
“Mmm. Is that so.”
Marakia seemed to be able to accept what he was told without difficulty. Although it was certainly something that could be overlooked, Sungchul took note of the ease of his acceptance and thought to himself.
‘The way he is reacting, it seems as though it is not a surprise that the effects of the Curse of Extinction during an on-going Calamity was stopped. As I thought, the Nahaks knew of a method to remain safe from the curse. Like Vestiare.’
Marakia climbed out of the egg and stretched himself. Him shaking his feather and trembling looked quite cute.
“It looks like you’re not surprised by the situation right now.”
Sungchul said to Marakia as he stared at him.
“Didn’t I get surprised though? I thought it was plenty shocking waking up to you.”
“Not that. I meant about the fact that the Curse of Extinction is not being applied to you right now.”
“I guess we are in a safe zone. Judging from the fact that my great self has not succumbed to the curse.”
“Land where the Curse of Extinction does not apply. This place looks like a safe zone of sorts. Although I wouldn’t know the mechanism behind it unless I took a close look around.”
Marakia mentioned a topic so naturally when Sungchul knew nothing about it.
“And there is no guarantee that the current conditions will continue indefinitely. I am just now born from an egg. It would be best to analyze things over time with patience.”
Marakia said before looking around at his surroundings.
“There are many things I wish to say, but the sleep demons are dragging me away to the world of dreams. Young bodies always demand a great deal of things. I desire a place of sleep.”
Sungchul gathered blankets and pillows and arranged them to make a makeshift nest for Marakia to sleep in. Marakia yawned before he hopped into the nest and closed his eyes.
“Mmm. I guess there’s no problems so far.”
Bertelgia who didn’t speak a word while Marakia was awake finally emerged from inside Sungchul’s pocket.
“Marakia is right. At this point, it is a best course of action for us to take time and see how things play out.”
Now that an excellent test subject like Marakia had been acquired, time would solve the rest. And if definitive proof that the Curse of Extinction could be broken was to be found, Sungchul’s long pursued goal would finally be reached. The image of his adopted daughter sleeping in the Fae World passed his eyes.
‘Wait just a little bit longer, kid.’
The next morning, Sungchul placed Bertelgia into his pocket and left Verdure Greenhouse. Although it worried him to leave Marakia alone in the room, he had prepared fresh raw meat and nuts before leaving. Marakia did complain that the meat did not taste good, but he promised that he would behave and stay in the room.
“Hmm. That guy. Seeing him be picky over food despite being just a bird makes me like him less and less every time. A bird like him should be eating bugs or something.”
It appeared as though Bertelgia did not like Marakia very much.
“Not all birds eat insects.”
Sungchul said as much before covering his face with a bandana. It was because unlike the time in La Grange district 8, he was a famous figure in Ixion. McRaed he had met earlier was a large influence in Sungchul making the decision to roam and explore the city streets. She had proclaimed that the newly built Ixion was a perfect city. Sungchul wanted to see if this was true.
‘Now, shall we go see how it is? How perfect the city of mages is?’
For starters, the first impressions in the street weren’t bad. The neatly arranged ivory colored buildings were placed harmoniously around large streets, which were kept clean of any trash. And Sungchul soon discovered the reason.
Small humanoids wearing masks that appeared to be Homunculi roamed in small groups sweeping and picking up trash. And unlike other Homunculi, these small humanoids appeared to be well trained and kept very quiet. They were completely different from typical Homunculi who loudly shouted all the time.
Things weren’t bad until that point, but Sungchul found that there were a great number of Homunculi working at a large variety of tasks in Ixion. Cleaning and landscaping goes without saying, but Homunculi were also being used in city maintenance, public transport, and public utility roles.
‘I guess this makes sense for a city of Mages. There are a disgusting number of Homunculi.’
Perhaps because the unavoidable but undesirable were all forced onto the Homunculi, it was difficult to find frown in any of the city’s inhabitants. They congregated in plazas containing the statue of Lesser God Sidmia as they fed the birds or drank coffee, enjoying the cool winter morning. Sungchul went around the plaza and found that most of the people here were greatly satisfied in their lives in the city.
He visited an open air cafe located next to the plaza to slake his thirst. A young couple was running the Cafe. There was nothing on the menu except for crepe and coffee. Of course, place like this had to cater to individual customers.
Sungchul ordered a crepe with creme and strawberry along with a coffee with one cube of ice. Sungchul drank the coffee as he listened in on the conversation from around him. They were conversations about ordinary things. Fear of the future or the Calamities felt like problems of a different world here.
‘This place is very much like the world I used to live in. This city.’
Sungchul returned the cup and started a conversation naturally.
“This looks like a great place to live in.”
“Of course. I don’t know what kind of place Ixion used to be in the past, but you would not be able to find another place like the current Ixion anywhere else on the whole continent.”
The cafe owner explained about his city with passion and pride. It was a level of pride that was difficult to believe anyone would have for a city that wasn’t even half a year old yet. Sungchul took a look around and thought to himself.
‘Mmm… Since this city was completed and fully equipped from the start, things like the joys of being part of the founding member or contributing hard work is a foreign concept all together. These people aren’t settlers but closer to residents.’
Sungchul decided to look around a bit more and resumed roaming the city. When about a half a day’s worth of meandering had elapsed, Sungchul was able to discover an important fact. There was not a single beggar in the streets. He was intentionally walking the back alleyways and went out of his way to search for them but he could not find any evidence of them at all.
This would not have been a big issue if this had been a small village, but this was a large city of tens of thousands of residents. Finding not a single bum in such a large city was close to an impossibility in the Other World.
“How peculiar, this city.”
“I think so too.”
The new Ixion was plenty strange even in Bertelgia’s eyes. As McRaed had proclaimed, Ixion appeared to be a near perfect city. Any city were bound to have at least one shade, but Ixion was like a sundial at noon where shadows could not be seen from anywhere.
Everyone seemed to be satisfied in their lives and dissatisfaction was difficult to find anywhere. Sungchul who had suffered long in society knew just how impossible such a state was.
‘Something is wrong. It seems like it’s real, but also not. It feels like I am seeing the residents of the Devil’s Towers in the Demon Realm again.’
Sungchul returned to Verdure Greenhouse filled with nothing but questions. Marakia had already finished the mountainous pile of meat and nuts that had been left for him.
He wasn’t sure, but Sungchul thought that Marakia looked larger than when he first saw him.
“He eats so freaking much. I feel like the one who needs to be earning his meal isn’t me but this guy.”
Bertelgia muttered to herself as she trembled. Sungchul also seemed greatly surprised by the sheer volume of Marakia’s appetite.
‘He really eats a ton.’
But it wasn’t like he could just stick him back in his egg. Sungchul requested one of the servant girls to bring more meat and nuts than before.
Later on, it seemed as though McRaed got wind of something and came to knock on Sungchul’s doors again.
“What is it?”
“I heard that you went out.”
Judging from the way she was speaking, it didn’t seem like she was here to talk about his recent request for additional meat.
“I went to go sight seeing in the city.”
There was no point hiding it so Sungchul answered honestly.
“What did you think?”
McRaed was looking at Sungchul with a subtle smile.
“Not bad… That doesn’t seem like a very good assessment? Well, you have plenty of time so take it easy and look around. You’ll notice more and more of Ixion’s greatness the longer you stay here.”
McRaed left those words and exited the room. Sungchul closed the door and fell into thought.
‘McRaed, and that young couple at the cafe as well. The residents of this city seem to have an excessively large pride when it comes to this city.’
Other things aside, it was definately a great place to live. The vitality of the city was incomparable to other cities. It was a meticulously planned and very strictly operated city. Sungchul left the Verdure Greenhouse once again when Marakia fell into a nap. The place he headed to was a tavern.
Taverns could be found anywhere, and in them were bound to be people of low morals. But no matter how much effort he put into searching around the city for one, he could not find a tavern. It was very strange.
A typical tavern in the Other World also usually operated as an inn so even small villages were bound to have at least one, but there was not one tavern in this giant city.
A city without homeless nor taverns.
It was an unimaginably strange place. Sungchul returned to the Verdure Greenhouse to ask a servant girl. If there was any place around where he could get a drink of alcohol.
The problem was solved unexpectedly easily. The servant girl taught him the location close by where he could go to drink. Although it was not a tavern and more of a peculiar form of theater, it was most definitely a place where people gathered at night to drink alcohol.
“The wallnut is not very tasty, but it has a great texture when you peck it with a beak. It’s not crumbly either.”
“What are you talking about?”
Sungchul and Bertelgia thoroughly ignored Marakia’s complaints and headed to the theater. And as he had expected, the theater served an equivalent function as a tavern in other places of the continent.
Of course in a celebrated fashion of Ixion, the theater gave a, elegant and bright atmosphere rather than that of the typical gloomy and dank taverns. The most noticeable feature was that serving was entrusted to a small Eckheart’s golem.
“What? Using daddy’s golems like this…”
Sungchul savored the taste of alcohol as Bertelgia complained. It was neither good nor bad. It appeared to be above average at least.
The most noticible thing about the theater was the layout. Beyond the tables the guests drank at was a stage, and on the stage was a play.
From the very first moment Sungchul stepped foot in the theater, the actors were enacting scenes of the play in a reverberating voice. The piece seemed to be about the Seven Heroes’s battle against the Merfolk King. But perhaps due to being inside of Vestiare’s city, the character depicting Vestiare was doing all of the work.
“Cease spreading chaos across the world and return to the abyss! You dirty half breed!”
Sungchul did not know much detail about the lives of the Seven Heroes, but he thought that there was at least one historical fact they got right. Because the seaweed wrapped actor playing the role of the Merfolk King was wielding a weapon very similar to Oom Brook that Sungchul carried.
‘Anyway, it doesn’t seem like the right kind of circumstance to strike up a conversation.’
One of the objectives of seeking out a tavern was collection of information, but in a place like this where the actors were loudly reciting their lines, it did not lead to a conducive atmosphere to hold conversations with others. Luckily, the accursed play seemed to be wrapping up and coming to a close. In the midst of a rousing applause, the actors held hands and gave a deep bow towards the audience.
Sungchul wished for them to quickly leave, but as it was a theatrical production, they opened and closed the curtains several times to compel the audience to keep clapping.
‘Get going already.’
It wasn’t until when Sungchul was reaching the limit of his patience that the actors finally left.
“Why are you getting mad over something like this? I thought you said you experienced civilized and cultured life?”
Unlike Sungchul who was brought to anger, Bertelgia seemed to enjoy the setting. In either case, the actors left and the theater finally seemed to assume the atmosphere of a traditional tavern. Sungchul made a quick survey of his surroundings to look for dissatisfied looking individuals to buy drinks and listen to their story when a man looking deeply unhappy came into view.
‘He would be perfect.’
It was just when he was about to approach that man. The unhappy looking man suddenly opened his eyes wide.
The crowd began to bustle. Sungchul realized something was going on and looked back towards the stage.
A young and beautiful woman wearing a fancy dress was walking towards the center of the stage. Sungchul doubted his eyes when he saw the face of the woman.
The woman of great misfortune, who always seemed to be at the wrong places at the wrong time, appeared in Ixion.
Clarice is the granddaughter of Kruut. Sungchul met the duo during his encounter with Sajators. She was one of the few survivors of Panchuria after the Human Empire blew it up.
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